AT&T Will Start Enforcing U-Verse Data Caps, Charging Extra For Unlimited Data

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | March 30, 2016 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: U-Verse, opinion, isp, Internet, FTTN, FTTH, editorial, data cap, AT%26T

AT&T U-Verse internet users will soon feel the pain of the company's old school DSL users in the form of enforced data caps and overage charges for exceeding new caps. In a blog post yesterday, AT&T announced plans to roll out new data usage caps for U-Verse users as well as a ('Comcastic') $30 per month option for unlimited data use.

Starting on May 23, 2016 AT&T U-Verse (VDSL2 and Gigapower/Fiber) customers will see an increase to their usage allowance based on their speed tier. Currently, U-Verse FTTN customer have a 250 GB cap regardless of speed tier while FTTH customers in its Gigapower markets have a higher 500 GB cap. These caps were soft caps and not enforced meaning that customers were not charged anything for going over them. That will soon change, and all U-Verse customers will be charged for going over their cap at a rate of $10 for every 50 GB over the cap. (e.g. Even if you use only 1 GB over the cap, you will still be charged the full $10 fee.).

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The new U-Verse caps (also listed in the chart below) range from 300 GB for speeds up to 6 Mbps and 600 GB for everything up to its bonded pair 75 Mbps tier. At the top end, customers lucky enough to get fiber to the home and speed plans up to 1 Gbps will have a 1 TB cap.

Internet Tier New Data Caps Overage Charges
AT&T DSL (all speeds) 150 GB $10 per 50GB
AT&T U-Verse (768 Kbps – 6 Mbps) 300 GB $10 per 50GB
AT&T U-Verse (12 Mbps – 75Mbps) 600 GB $10 per 50GB
AT&T U-Verse FTTH (100 Mbps – 1 Gbps)  1 TB $10 per 50GB

Uverse customers that expect to use more than 500 GB over their data cap ($100 is the maximum overage charge) or that simply prefer not to worry about tracking their data usage can opt to pay an additional $30 monthly fee to be exempt from their data cap.

It's not all bad news though. General wisdom has always been that U-Verse customers subscribed to both internet and TV would be exempt from the caps even if AT&T started to enforce them. This is not changing. U-Verse customers subscribed to U-Verse TV (IPTV) or Direct TV on a double play package with U-Verse internet will officially be exempt from the cap and will get the $30/month unlimited data option for free.

AT&T DSL users continue to be left behind here as they will not receive an increase in their 150 GB data allowance, and from the wording of the blog post it appears that they will further be left out of the $30 per month unlimited data option (which would have actually been a very welcome change for them).

Karl Bode over at DSLReports adds a bit of interesting history in mentioning that originally AT&T stated that U-Verse users would not be subject to a hard data cap because of the improved network architecture and its "greater capacity" versus the old school CO-fed DSL lines. With the acquisition of Direct TV and the way that AT&T has been heavily pushing Direct TV and pushing customers away from its IPTV U-Verse TV service, it actually seems like a perfect time to not enforce data caps since customers going with its Direct TV satellite TV would free up a great deal of bandwidth on the VDSL2 wireline network for internet!

This recent move is very reminiscent of Comcast's as it "trials" data caps and overages in certain markets as well as having it's own extra monthly charge for unlimited data use. Considering the relatively miniscule cost to deliver this data versus the monthly service charges, these new unlimited options really seem more about seeking profit than any increased costs especially since customers have effectively had unlimited data this whole time and will soon be charged for the same service they've possibly been using for years. I will give AT&T some credit for implementing more realistic data caps and bumping everyone up based on speed tiers (something Comcast should adopt if they are set on having caps). Also, letting Internet+TV customers keep unlimited data is a good thing, even if it is only there to encourage people not to cut the cord.

The final bit of good news is that existing U-Verse customers will have approximately four months before they will be charged for going over their data caps. AT&T claims that they will only begin charging for overages on the third billing cycle, giving customers at least two 'free' months of overages. Users can opt to switch between unlimited and capped options at will, even in the middle of a billing cycle, and the company will send as many as seven email reminders at various data usage points as they approach the cap in the first two months as a warning to the overages.

This is a lot to take in, but there is still plenty of time to figure out how the changes will affect you. 

Are you a U-Verse or AT&T DSL user? What do you think about the new data caps for U-Verse users and the $30/month unlimited data option?

Source: AT&T

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March 30, 2016 | 08:52 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

All the TVTelCoISPs have set quotas for how much money they expect to get from households and businesses in order to keep profits up and employees paid. I can't find the exact quote, but I believe it was a Comcast or TWC exec that once stated that they needed "$120/household just to keep the lights on". They're going to get their money one way or another.

Fortunately my plan has no caps - soft or otherwise. Thanks to my VPN, no throttles either.

March 30, 2016 | 08:56 AM - Posted by Tim Verry

Really? $120/household just to keep the lights on seems like crazy talk to me. I don't doubt that a cable exec said that though!

March 30, 2016 | 09:02 AM - Posted by Bri (not verified)

Source with proof needed. Just because some jackwad exec says something doesn't make it true. In fact, Comcast's defense about "it's only fair" is a giant steaming load. The actual cost for the ISP to deliver 1GB of data is virtually nothing and only continues to drop. Meanwhile, they know that data usage only continues to rise due to higher and higher quality streaming.

What Comcast is doing whereby they are removing data caps from their own streaming services while penalizing others is anti-competitive behavior.

March 30, 2016 | 10:21 AM - Posted by funandjam

an exec said that? LMAO, such a load of BS.

According to the news early last year, over %90 of the money earned by an ISP is pure profit -

March 30, 2016 | 12:44 PM - Posted by CFA (not verified)

That's absolutely not how the math works and the person who wrote the article is financially illiterate. From the last 10k, AT&T has a 9% net profit margin which is pretty normal. In addition, I would make the argument that depreciation is a real expense for wireline and wireless ISP's because they have to constantly upgrade their networks. Wireless ISP's more so than wireline; however, wireline upgrades are not cheap because the excavation and replacement of copper to fiber is more capital intensive.

Basically, only looking at gross profit would be like me saying "you made $100,000 last year and paid $40,000 in taxes, you are saving $60,000 a year, you are super rich" and completely ignoring you have to pay your mortgage, car note, food, gas, home insurance, car insurance, health insurance, etc...

March 30, 2016 | 05:15 PM - Posted by funandjam

Honestly, I didn't believe that sensationalist number either, but I posted that as a reply to show that some "exec" saying they have to charge customer a certain amount of $120 a month just to keep the lights on is ludicrous.

I'll agree that the article isn't quite accurate with %90+ in profits, but %9 or %10 isn't accurate either. ISP's to this day are still being subsidized by the US government and that wasn't included in that article either. Or how about all of the "business" deals worked out between ISP's and local governments and hardware vendors, etc? or how about the hundreds of millions of dollars given by the US government to the ISP's to upgrade the infrastructure? etc, the list can go on and on about how they get help and save money that isn't reported in that article either.

Your example? not accurate considering what i've just mentioned.

TL;DR - Any big ISP gets obscene amounts of profits whether you want to believe it or not.

March 30, 2016 | 12:15 PM - Posted by Bianchi4me (not verified)

I believe this exec quote is correct. He means the little lights that illuminate the refrigerated storage compartments where the caviar and champagne are stored on the corporate Gulfstream V.

March 30, 2016 | 10:06 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Take my advice and don't ever walk into a car dealership. You're clearly a sheep and will get slaughtered with prejudice.


March 30, 2016 | 10:08 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

as much as im not for data caps 1tb is much better than what Comcast is enforcing in its "trial area's"

March 30, 2016 | 10:21 AM - Posted by remc86007

I just checked and on my 25mbit comcast connection I've used 509GB in the past 30 days. I work and go to school for 8 to 12 hours a day during the week and have been visiting my wife in another city on weekends; I can't imagine how high my usage would be if my wife and I were actually home a lot. Netflix, youtube, and downloading and playing modern games can't be done while staying under 600Gb.

March 30, 2016 | 10:23 AM - Posted by JohnL (not verified)

Wait.....seriously? 768 Kbps for HD streaming? Are they working a miracle or what?

March 30, 2016 | 04:12 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

heh, well you just have to let it buffer for awhile ;). When I first moved out and before Comcast was installed for the first time I had gotten this WiMAX wireless provider to hold me over and it had speeds somewhere around there (I think it was supposed to be 3Mbps or something but was actually less than 1 :P) and it was possible to watch netflix... I just had to let if buffer for a long time, what felt like more than half the show so I could play it in real time! It was so painful! lol

March 30, 2016 | 11:04 AM - Posted by Aysell

coming from a country where the minimum offered home connection from any company is 100Mb and even mobile data is doing away with caps i find this news extremely sad for u guys, unimaginable really.

I can only hope u get alternative ISPs and drop those doing this as soon as u can.

March 30, 2016 | 10:38 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I don't have much of a choice right now. It is either 1.5 Mbit DSL or 60 Mbit cable. Given the situation though, I will drop Comcast as soon as there is something else available. I am hoping we will get google finds or something.

March 30, 2016 | 11:14 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Its great that our internet technology is going backwards these last 10 years

March 30, 2016 | 11:47 AM - Posted by M (not verified)

Murican-style crony-"capitalism", nuff said.

March 30, 2016 | 11:55 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I pay $86.50 CAD for 275gb@60Mbps a month and $1 for every GB over, no max. As far as I know my cable company has no competition. Good old canada...I'd take trump as my leader for better internet.

March 30, 2016 | 12:07 PM - Posted by nanoflower (not verified)

Hopefully this will encourage Comcast to at least up their monthly limits. I'm getting tired of being stuck with a 300GB/month limit and having to watch my usage like a hawk so I don't go over. 600GB/month would be such a nice change.

March 30, 2016 | 12:59 PM - Posted by Bri (not verified)

Thankfully Comcrap hasn't rolled out the cap to my area, but as soon as they do you can bet I'll be jumping ship. I'd even be willing to start my own WISP just to get away from them.

March 30, 2016 | 12:34 PM - Posted by Arc (not verified)

I have utter disdain for any kind of bandwidth cap, that said it took me weeks of hard usage and downloading with 50Mbps to hit 500GB back when I was in Hawaii with Oceanic service.

These caps are /somewhat/ sane.

March 30, 2016 | 02:29 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Well, I get 55D 6U and have their damn IPTV Serive, so I should be good.

March 30, 2016 | 04:22 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

Yep, you should be good!

March 30, 2016 | 03:39 PM - Posted by Lance Ripplinger (not verified)

I just enjoy reading about the scams these monopolistic telecom/cable providers perpetuate on the people in the U.S. "Data caps" are a scam, pure and simple. They act like data is finite resource that costs them all this money. I smell BS. It costs the ISP's virtually nothing to shoot light or current over a wire. They just do this, so that the CEO's can have their golden parachute. Thankfully, my local, rural ISP doesn't do that "data cap" BS, and hopefully never will. Of course, the corrupt government doesn't do anything about it, because they are all bought off and paid for by the same monopolies.

March 30, 2016 | 05:02 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yet another reason for me to switch to Google Fiber as soon as it's avaliable in my area.

April 1, 2016 | 07:57 AM - Posted by Fane Tractor (not verified)

In Romania we get 1Gbps for 12$ (tax included) with no limits. AT&T sounds like a rip off, maybe Digi should come to the USA and show them how to do it.

April 1, 2016 | 04:27 PM - Posted by rroce (not verified)

AT&T TV are still being rolled out? I thought they made the switch to DirecTV already.

April 2, 2016 | 12:07 AM - Posted by Tim Verry

Yes, you can still purchase it, they've made it harder to find on their website though and are pushing Direct TV hard giving it the better promos and such.

April 2, 2016 | 02:49 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Up here in Artic it's 305gb a month with a $5 per GB overage charge and its rated at 150mb down 10 MB up. Doesn't happen when is still running 600+ students logging in on same pipeline cuts that down considerably. Can't wait to get to Shaw or Telus in Alberta.

April 17, 2016 | 09:30 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I don't fully understand this yet...but I knew when they hooked up with Direct TV there would be trouble...ridiculous...I will be trying to find another internet provider...want nothing to do with Direct TV.

May 17, 2016 | 04:25 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

What other internet service companies are in Dallas County? That someone likes?

June 1, 2016 | 06:55 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I go over this cap every month. the new enforcement of this cap has made me switch to Charter. As they have no cap for their 60mbps. with a 39 dollars a month for one year. Even if it goes up to 60 bucks a month after the year. Its better than paying att for their shitty 6mbps (54 dollars) plus 30 bucks for unlimited cap.

June 1, 2016 | 04:08 PM - Posted by Mebeksis (not verified)

These limits are totally sane....for a single person or maybe a couple. I have 4 children, all with their own tablets to watch netflix on. I have a gaming console for the main tv. We haven't used less than 700gb in the last 8 months and with school being out, I can see that going up to 1gb if not 1.5gb.

June 14, 2016 | 09:01 PM - Posted by RNZachery (not verified)

This really is ridiculous. We also have 4 kids. We watch Netflix and Hulu, Do Xbox live, ipods and tablets are connected to our wifi as well. My kids are in school until 2:30/3:30 each day and then they have jiu jitsu and dance 10-11 hours a week. We aren't connected to the internet 24/7 but I just checked my usage and we're already at 634.3GB. I guess we're screwed.

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